But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15 TNIV, underline author's emphasis).
On the way home from church, Joshua's dad wanted to know what his pre-school son's teacher had taught him in Bible class. His dad's interest wasn't just fatherly concern; Joshua's dad was on staff at the church. Joshua folded his arms across the chest and with a stern look said, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! That's all they want to talk about in my class is Jesus!"
The Bible is a rich library of many different kinds of inspired literature — poetry, prophecy, hymn, psalm, oracle, narrative, sermon, letter, parable, proverb, legal. For followers of Christ, however, the one focus that must be at the center is Jesus. While Joshua may have wanted more diversity in his Sunday school curriculum, his teachers had found the heart of the matter: Jesus.
Putting Jesus at the center doesn't mean the rest of Scripture is unimportant, irrelevant, or uninspiring. Instead, the story of Jesus becomes the lens through which the rest of Scripture comes into focus. It is the tuning fork by which the rest of the message is tuned.
The New Testament books in the Bible make this claim in various ways.
Paul's words written to Timothy, his apprentice in ministry, are but one example — see the Scripture quoted at the beginning of this message. Paul also said, "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Jesus' call for folks to "follow me" (Matthew 4:19 — and many other times in the Gospels) are another example. But even more directly on target to our point, Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount, "You have heard that it was to people long ago ... But I tell you ..." (Matthew 5:21-22 — also see verses 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44 for other examples of this thought pattern) are his own claim to be THE authoritative interpreter of Scripture. Jesus' final words on earth drive home the crucial role his teaching plays in the life of God's followers. These words are known as The Great Commission, and they emphasize the importance of making disciples from people of all cultures, "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20).
The rest of the New Testament emphasizes the crucial place of Jesus at the center of everything in the life of his followers if they are to know God and find life. He is the one who has made God known (John 1:18). He is the way to God, the source of truth, and the one who brings life (John 14:6). There is no other name given to human beings that brings them to salvation (Acts 4:12). He is God's great message to his human children (Hebrews 1:1-3), come in human flesh to reveal God to us (John 1:14). Jesus is the goal of our spiritual maturity (Colossians 1:28-29) and the direction the Holy Spirit is at work shaping our lives (2 Corinthians 3:18). Jesus is the goal Jesus' followers are to attain as his Body (Ephesians 3:12-16).
So what's the point? Simple. Jesus has to be at the center of everything for us! While there are all sorts of things we can study, Jesus is THE essential. While there are many fascinating tangents to chase in our Bible study, we can't be all tangents: we must have a center and that center must be Jesus.
While the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, is crucial and vital for us, Jesus is the authority, the goal, the truth, the standard, and the measure of our faithfulness. His character and compassion are the tests of our orthodoxy and faithfulness. His ministry must be our goal as his followers. His concern for people — lost, broken, forgotten, last, abandoned, foreign, rich and poor, young and old, powerful and powerless — must be our passion.
As followers of Jesus, let's not let anything or anyone take his place. That's the heart of what "The Jesus Vibe" is all about — learning to put Jesus at the center of everything. So let's make sure that if Joshua were to look at our lives, he would say of us, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! That's what they're all about: Jesus!"
Do you feel like we've lost sight of Jesus being the center of everything in our churches today? If so, how do we move closer in the direction of living by "The Jesus Vibe" with Jesus as the center of everything?
Do you believe that Jesus must be the center of how we understand and obey Scripture? Why or why not?
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